Volkswagen certified pre-owned warranty

Two years of coverage is solid, but there’s a catch

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While the Beetle may have officially ended production in 2019, its spirit lives on in Volkswagen’s current lineup. Today’s VW crossovers, hatchbacks and sedans offer German precision and utility without the price tag typically associated with their cousins from Audi and Porsche.

However, VWs aren’t known for their long-term reliability — which is why you might want to consider a certified pre-owned (CPO) model if you’re shopping for a Volkswagen.

But how does VW’s CPO program work? What all is included? Is the extra warranty any good? And is the whole package worth paying extra for?

Read on to find out.


Key insights

As of publishing, CPO VWs come with one of three bumper-to-bumper warranties: one for 2020 or newer vehicles, another for 2018 and 2019 vehicles and a third for electric vehicles.

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Unlike most CPO warranties, VW’s additional coverage doesn’t wait until the original factory warranty expires. So, it’s probably not worth buying a CPO VW if the vehicle has more than a year of factory warranty coverage left.

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On average, Volkswagen dealers charge about $2,000 more for CPO VWs than non-certified vehicles of the same age and mileage.

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That upcharge might be worth paying if the vehicle you’re buying is nearly out of factory warranty. Otherwise, it might make more sense to buy a separate extended warranty.

Jump to insight

Volkswagen’s certified pre-owned program explained

If you’re unfamiliar with certified pre-owned programs in general, here’s the gist: Buying CPO offers car buyers a third option between “new” and “used.” In order to qualify as CPO, a used vehicle must be under a certain age/mileage, pass a dealership inspection and include a longer warranty. Some call them “like new” vehicles, and they’re a popular choice with car buyers because they come with added peace of mind over regular used cars.

Every major automaker has its own CPO program and Volkswagen is no exception. In order to qualify as certified pre-owned, a used VW must be under six years old, have fewer than 75,000 miles and pass a dealership inspection covering over 100 points on the car.

Certified VWs also include a warranty that varies in length based on the age and powertrain of the vehicle:

  • On 2018 and 2019 model year vehicles, you’ll get a one-year/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.
  • On 2020 and newer vehicles, you’ll get a two-year/24,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.
  • On 2018 and newer electric vehicles (e.g., the ID.4), you’ll get a three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.

Lastly, all CPO Volkswagens come with two years of roadside assistance that includes towing, flat tire assistance, battery jump-starts, lock-out service and even a traction battery jump-start if your EV runs out of charge.

But the main value in buying CPO is found in the extra warranty protection — so let’s look at that next.

» LEARN: What does a car warranty cover?

How good is Volkswagen’s CPO warranty?

For context, all new VWs come with a four-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper factory warranty covering virtually every part of the car but routine wear-and-tear items (wiper blades, brake pads, etc.). Most factory warranties (including VW’s) automatically transfer to new owners, so whether you buy a used or CPO Volkswagen, you’ll get whatever’s left of that factory coverage.

If you buy a CPO VW, however, you’ll also get an additional two years/24,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage for a 2020 or newer model.

“VW tries to offer a bit more warranty coverage than its competitors,” our local VW dealer told us. ”Some of its rivals give you one year or less, while VW gives you two if the car is new enough.

VW tries to offer a bit more warranty coverage than its competitors. … Some of its rivals give you one year or less, while VW gives you two if the car is new enough.”
— our local Volkswagen dealer

To his point, a two-year CPO warranty is pretty rare for a non-luxury brand. One year is the industry standard, and the Stellantis family of brands (Dodge, Jeep, FIAT, Ram, Alfa Romeo and Chrysler) offer just three months with their CPO vehicles.

Here’s the catch: VW’s two-year CPO warranty starts on the day you purchase the vehicle — not the day your factory warranty expires, which is how CPO warranties usually work. That means if you buy a 2023 Jetta, your CPO warranty will run out a full year before your factory expires, essentially rendering it useless. (We confirmed that quirk with two separate dealers.)

It may sound counterintuitive, but to get the full value out of your CPO warranty, you’ll want to find a CPO VW that’s nearing the end of its factory warranty period (i.e., a 2020 model in 2024).

How does Volkswagen’s CPO warranty compare?

Even though VW doesn’t wait until your factory warranty expires to start the timer on its CPO warranty, it still offers more total coverage than many of its competitors.

Toyota, for example, offers a one-year/12,000-mile CPO warranty that starts on the date your three-year/36,000-mile factory warranty expires. But even those two combined still provide slightly less coverage (four years/48,000 miles total) than VW offers from the factory (four years/50,000 miles).

Like Volkswagen, Kia also starts the clock on your CPO warranty the day you buy the car, but Kia vehicles have a five-year/60,000-mile factory warranty to start with. That means both CPO Kias and CPO VWs offer you a maximum of six years of coverage, depending on the age of the vehicle.

As you can probably see, it’s hard to compare warranties apples-to-apples, but here’s the big takeaway: VW’s CPO warranty is one of the best on paper, but it only works if you buy a vehicle that’s near the end of its four year/50,000-mile factory warranty period.

*Measured from when you bought the vehicle or the end of your factory bumper-to-bumper warranty; **Measured from when your vehicle was new; ***Measured from when you bought the vehicle

» MORE: Best CPO warranties

CPO Volkswagen benefits

In addition to the warranty, CPO Volkswagens come with the following benefits:

  • 24/7 roadside assistance for two years, including towing after breakdowns or collisions, flat tire service, lock-out service, fuel delivery, battery jump-starts and out-of-charge service for electric vehicles
  • Trip interruption coverage, which can reimburse you for up to $500 worth of meals, lodging and alternate transportation if your VW breaks down over 100 miles from home

VW does wait until your factory benefits expire before starting the timer on your CPO roadside assistance. All new VWs come with three years/36,000 miles of free roadside assistance, so you’ll get up to five years total if you buy certified pre-owned.

Is a CPO Volkswagen worth it?

Broadly speaking, it’s more likely to be worth paying extra for a certified pre-owned vehicle if:

  • You place a lot of value on your peace of mind.
  • The vehicle you’re considering has a checkered reputation for reliability.
  • The extra warranty and benefits justify the upcharge.

Since the first point is up to you, let’s look at VW’s reputation for reliability and how much dealers are charging for CPO VWs versus regular used VWs these days.

How reliable are Volkswagens?

In its 2024 Vehicle Dependability Study, J.D. Power ranked Volkswagen 26th out of 29 brands. The survey results indicated that, within their first three years of use, 2021-model-year VWs exhibited an average of 267 problems per 100 vehicles. Compare that to the 190-problem average across brands.

Consumer Reports, which looks at a wider range of model years, wasn’t much kinder to VW. The outlet ranked the brand 27th out of 30 automakers, with a predicted reliability score of just 26 out of 100. The most troublesome models were the Jetta (25) and Taos (18), while the most reliable model — relatively speaking — was the Tiguan (34).

A warranty on a reliable car is actually less useful than one for an unreliable vehicle.

RepairPal data suggests that VWs visit the shop about 22.5% more often than the average car — though the average cost of repairs and maintenance was about 4% higher than the industry average.

In summary, the data supports the idea that when it comes to owning a VW — the longer the warranty, the better. That definitely places extra value on the CPO warranty, but what are dealers charging in exchange?

» MORE: Volkswagen maintenance: cost, plans and service schedule

How much does a certified pre-owned Volkswagen cost?

To find out how much extra a CPO Volkswagen might cost you, we headed to Edmunds.com to compare the average cost of a CPO VW to its closest used equivalents (vehicles under six years old, with fewer than 75,000 miles, no accidents, etc.).

Within 500 miles of New York City, there were 7,730 comparable used VWs with an average asking price of $24,327. In contrast, there were just 2,170 CPO examples with an average price of $26,343. That’s a difference of $2,016 — or an upcharge of about 8.3% for CPO VWs over the cost of used counterparts.

So, is paying 8.3% more for a CPO Volkswagen worth it?

The value of paying extra for a CPO Volkswagen depends on how old the vehicle is.

Well, it’s not worth the cost if you’re looking at 2022 or newer VWs. Those vehicles still have two years of factory warranty left, so at that point, all you’re really paying for is the inspection and two extra years of roadside assistance. You can get both of those perks separately by ordering a pre-purchase inspection (about $200) and subscribing to AAA (about $50 per year).

For older VWs, paying $2,000 for up to two years of CPO benefits starts to make a little more sense. You’d essentially be getting up to two years of bumper-to-bumper warranty coverage, which isn’t bad, considering VW tends to charge around $3,000 for a three-year extended warranty.

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CPO vs. extended warranties for Volkswagens

The big challenge of shopping for a certified pre-owned VW is that your benefits run concurrently with your remaining factory warranty. So, unless you buy a VW with close to no factory warranty remaining, purchasing a separate extended warranty might make a little more sense.

In our full breakdown of Volkswagen extended warranties, we found that, on average, VW tends to charge around $3,000 for a seven-year/100,000-mile bumper-to-bumper extended warranty. VW calls them Volkswagen Drive Easy Protection Plans, and they include the same benefits as its CPO vehicles (roadside assistance/towing/trip interruption) plus a $35 per diem for rental car reimbursement.

Compare the cost of CPO VW versus buying a standard used model and getting an inspection and extended warranty before you buy.

The other huge advantage of buying a Drive Easy Protection Plan instead of a CPO VW is that it doesn’t really matter how old your used VW is when you buy. Whether you buy a used 2021 or 2024 model, you’re still getting a full three years of coverage tacked onto the end of your factory warranty. You don’t have to worry about your extended warranty coverage running out while your factory warranty is still active.

So, to keep things simple, here’s what we’d suggest: Once you find a make and model VW that you like, consider comparing the cost of buying CPO versus buying a separate extended warranty. You may find that the dealer wants $2,000 extra for the CPO vehicle, while a three-year extended warranty from VW or one of our best extended warranty companies only costs $2,200.

Just be sure to have a non-certified VW inspected before you buy it. Pre-purchase inspections are only about $200 and lend tremendous peace of mind.

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Article sources
ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
  1. J.D. Power, “Vehicle Dependability Slumps as Rate of Deterioration Increases, J.D. Power Finds.” Accessed May 2, 2024.
  2. Consumer Reports, “Who Makes the Most Reliable New Cars?” Accessed May 2, 2024.
  3. Consumer Reports, “Volkswagen.” Accessed May 2, 2024.
  4. RepairPal, “Volkswagen Reliability Rating.” Accessed May 2, 2024.
  5. Edmunds, “Used Volkswagen for Sale Near Me.” Accessed May 2, 2024.
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